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Saturday, November 1, 2014

Five storylines to watch for

Under coach Frank Haith, the Tigers have moved from an 11-man rotation to an eight-man rotation this season. In addition to the reduction, the Tigers are faced with the challenges of avoiding fatigue and injury that could hinder their season success.

Ben Walton/Staff Photographer

Redshirt freshman Kadeem Green blocks out for a rebound Monday night at Mizzou Arena. Green, at 6 feet 8 inches, takes on the challenge of replacing Laurence Bowers this season.

Ben Walton/Staff Photographer

Senior guard Kim English goes up for a jump shot Monday night at Mizzou Arena. Coming off an underwhelming 2010-11 season, English is faced with the challenge of playing power forward.

Ben Walton/Staff Photographer

Sophomore guard Phil Pressey drives past a Southeast Missouri State University defender Friday night at Mizzou Arena. Pressey hopes to carry over his success from last year to this season.

Ben Walton/Staff Photographer

Nov. 15, 2011

Missouri basketball enters the season receiving much less national attention than last year, despite ranking No. 25 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. The team's current senior class has already secured its spot as the program's all-time winningest class with 77 wins.

These five factors will play a key role in determining how many more they accumulate:

Which Kim English will show up? Kim English is coming off an underwhelming 2010-11 campaign, one which saw his points per game average drop from 14 PPG in 2009-10 to just 10 PPG last season. Now a senior, English (6 feet 6 inches, 200 pounds) is adjusting to playing power forward, where he'll go one-on-one with the likes of Texas A&M's David Loubeau (6 feet 8 inches, 235 pounds) and Kansas's Thomas Robinson (6 feet 9 inches, 237 pounds) in Big 12 Conference play.

The Tigers are at a disadvantage defensively due to their lack of size. But if English regains his outside shooting touch, MU's four-guard lineup will be tough to contain.

Are last year's road woes a worry of the past? Missouri was a meager 6-10 in games outside of Mizzou Arena and was just 2-7 in true road games last season. The two road victories were against Iowa State and Oregon, teams that finished a combined 32-33 last season. The Tigers won those two contests by a combined nine points.

Aside from facing each conference foe on the road once, key games away from Mizzou Arena this year include Notre Dame in Kansas City, Villanova in New York City and Illinois in St. Louis. Were the travel troubles related to former coach Mike Anderson, or is it an issue with the MU roster? Time will tell.

Can Phil Pressey take the next step? Coach Frank Haith has raved about sophomore point guard Phil Pressey, comparing him to former Texas Longhorn and current NBA player T.J. Ford. Haith has also stressed the importance of the point guard position.

The onus is on Pressey to build upon the progression he showed as last season wore on. Pressey made 12 starts in his rookie season and averaged 6.5 points, 2.3 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 2.0 steals per game. His assists and steals totals both set records for MU freshman.

Can Kadeem Green make an impact? Redshirt freshmen power forward Kadeem Green is the de facto replacement for Laurence Bowers, who is redshirting this season as he recovers from a torn ACL. Green has yet to play in a regular season game for Missouri after redshirting last season to recover from a torn Achilles tendon. Missouri is relying on the Toronto native who didn't show much during MU's three exhibition games to play a key role off the bench for the Tigers, who have just three players taller than 6 feet, 6 inches.

Will durability be a concern? Under Anderson, Missouri played an 11-man rotation. The Tigers have just eight scholarship players on the roster, so MU starters can count on playing six to eight more minutes per game than they did last year. Coach Haith pointed to fatigue as a possible explanation for Missouri's pedestrian second half of its exhibition against Central Missouri. If the extra minutes are already taking a toll on the team, how will they hold up over the course of the next four months?

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